Watch your mail closely, Champaign-Urbana families: You may have already been mailed a card this month with more than $500 to be used for food
The federally-funded P-EBT program will issue cards with dollar amounts based on the number of days where in-person breakfast and lunch were unavailable to students
It is no secret that the past year has been a tremendous struggle for families navigating the many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when it comes to a pause in in-person learning. To tackle one important piece of this challenge related to food during the 2020-21 school year, the state will be distributing P-EBT funds to many Illinois students — including in Champaign and Urbana — through a plan approved by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
To read all about P-EBT benefits, please check out this page on the Illinois Department of Human Services website, or simply reach out to your child’s school to inquire with specific eligibility questions.
What is P-EBT?
The purpose of P-EBT is to provide food assistance to families with students who would have received free or reduced meals while attending school but are not receiving these meals in school due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- Students enrolled at some schools automatically qualify for P-EBT benefits, while other students must qualify for free/reduced meals to be eligible.
- If a student is enrolled at a school that does not participate in the National School Lunch Program, they are not eligible to receive P-EBT benefits
- Benefits are issued at $6.82 per school day, where school meals were not offered to students (such as remote learning days), where students were in attendance (this includes remote learning attendance)
- Cards will be mailed to families in March with one card per child and will initially be loaded with funds for days in August-December 2020
- It is important families keep these cards, as funds will continue to be added throughout the remainder of the school year
What You Need To Do
You do not need to do anything to receive P-EBT benefits. Your school may have already reached out to you to confirm your mailing address (varies by school district). When you receive the card, it will have benefits loaded for each day your student is eligible for meals from August through December 2020. In April 2021, more funds will be loaded for days from January-March 2021. Benefits will be added again for days through the end of the school year in May 2021. It is very important you keep the card you receive as it will have future funds added to it automatically – do not wait for or expect new cards to arrive in the mail after the initial card.
What if I received meal boxes during the months my student has been remote learning?
Many local Champaign-Urbana area school districts put together meal boxes to be distributed on a regular basis (typically weekly) this school year. The P-EBT funds are completely separate from these meals, and dependent on whether your student had access to meals at school.
P-EBT Information Specifically For Unit 4
There are many questions about P-EBT benefits. For students currently enrolled in the Unit 4 School District, we have the following information:
- students at BTW, Dr. Howard, Garden Hills, IPA, Kenwood, Stratton, Westview automatically qualify for P-EBT benefits
- students enrolled in other Unit 4 schools had to qualify for Free/Reduced meals to be eligible
- students enrolled at CECC are not eligible.
All of the school days in the Unit 4 school calendar up to this point have been eligible for P-EBT benefits because meals have not been served at school. So for the 77 attendance days in August -December, we can deduce that the initial round of funds will total around $525 for each student, depending on individual attendance.
Do you have information on your school’s P-EBT eligibility?
We are happy to update this post with information specific to other Champaign-Urbana area school districts. If you have P-EBT info to add for your district, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will include it for our readers.